The Business Case for Captioning ECommerce Videos

January 15, 2020 BY JACLYN LAZZARI
Updated: October 23, 2023

Captioning is a valuable opportunity for eCommerce brands that yields an improved user experience, more powerful branding, and potentially higher revenue streams from video projects.

Accessible videos pack a more powerful punch than inaccessible videos, begging the question: What is the business case for captioning eCommerce videos? Will it provide new opportunities for revenue and deliver a solid return on investment?

What Are ECommerce Videos?

It is challenging to create an online experience that emulates the up-close and personal experience of shopping at a store. Still, video content allows eCommerce brands to better connect with online shoppers.

There are several types of eCommerce videos that help to drive sales and highlight products and services:

Product Demo Videos

Online shopping does not allow the consumer to test products for themselves before purchasing. Product demos are the best way to showcase a product in action.

To toggle the closed captions on and off, play the video then hover your mouse over the video and click the CC button. Have fun playing with the different caption options. You can also watch this video with audio description – go to the text box icon to the right of the CC icon and select English (commentary).

Sephora AD example video thumbnail


How-To Videos

How-to videos are perfect for products with unintuitive use cases or instructions for use. There’s no doubt that customers appreciate the added visualization and assistance that how-to videos provide.

Shoppable Videos

Shoppable videos (with links to products) emphasize the products featured in videos and make it easier for shoppers to make purchases decisions while watching the content. It’s easy as pie for shoppers since they don’t need to search for products on your site.

The Opportunity

Video content, in general, is an opportunity for eCommerce to give the people what they want; 54 percent of consumers want to see videos from their favorite brands. When you add accessibility to the mix, the benefits multiply.

In response to the increasing popularity of online video, many eCommerce brands have already opted to incorporate videos into their marketing strategy. This choice has enabled them to enhance the online shopping experience and showcase their products in ways that spark real action, i.e., purchases and, therefore, revenue.

Although captions provide consumers with a viewing experience that fits their needs and expectations, many eCommerce videos are still not accessible.

Captions indeed make videos accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, 80 percent of people who use captions do not have any hearing loss. Many recent reports have found that closed captions provide a plethora of benefits to all viewers.

Access the Ebook

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What should you know about accessibility for eCommerce videos? This ebook offers a concise overview of the current state of videos published by eCommerce brands.


Improve the User Experience

Viewers not only want captioned videos, but they expect it. Current audiences are reportedly shying away from watching videos with sound, making closed captions all the more impactful. The viewers who prefer silent viewing expect and appreciate when brands provide closed captions.

Captions make a real impact on user experience:

  • 50 percent expect to find captions on all types of video content.
  • 80 percent are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are provided.
  • 37 percent report that captioning encourages them to turn sound on because it made them more interested in the video.

Reinforce Your Brand’s Power

The reality is that it’s getting more challenging for brands to stand out. There are many things that companies can do to make a more significant impact on consumers, and captioning is one of them.

Danisha Lomax, VP and director of paid social at Digitas North America says, “Brands are starting to incorporate the use of captions into their best practices to ensure that people are digesting the content they’re visually consuming.” 66 percent of marketing professionals use closed captions for their video for many reasons: (Advertiser Perception Study, 2018)

Captioning can take your brand to the next level and help leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Captions Improve KPI’s

Research reveals that captions improve brand and ad recall within the first 6 seconds of viewing a video. The opening moments of a video are the most important. It’s an opportunity to draw in the viewer and keep them watching longer. Captions can make each more likely and increase video watch times. (Verizon Media Video Ad Forced Exposure Test, Nov 2018)

The Cost of Captioning ECommerce Videos

Online shopping cart.

The cost of captioning refers to two things: The cost that your organization will pay to caption your video content, and the price that your organization could have to pay if you don’t caption at all.

In-House Costs

The assumption is often that professional captioning services are more expensive than captioning in-house. However, it can end up costing double the amount when you caption videos on your own. Here’s why:

Let’s say an untrained transcriptionist, such as a student or intern paid at $15 per hour, takes five hours or more to transcribe a one hour file.

 (5 hours of transcription) x ($15/hour) = $75 for one-hour video file  Next, the file must be time-synchronized. You must ensure that each caption frame aligns nearly perfectly with the audio. Let’s assume that using a free synchronization tool, like YouTube, adds an hour to the captioning process.

 (1 hour of time-syncing) x ($15/hour) = $15 for one-hour video file  The final step is quality control, which ensures caption accuracy and is critical for accessibility and user experience. A proper quality check takes longer than the duration of the actual file, or about 1.5 hours for a one hour video.

 (1.5 hour of quality check) x ($15/hour) = $22.50 for one-hour video file  With these things considered, the cost to caption is $165 per hour of content, not including operational costs that fund training, hiring, and managing, and scheduling.

 Total estimated cost for in-house captioning = $165/hour of video 

Third-Party Costs

The more video content you have, the more you’ll find value in employing a third-party vendor. It requires less resource time and often provides more value for your dollar than in-house solutions.

Most captioning vendors charge per minute. Prices can range from $1 per minute to $15 per minute. With that in mind, the cost could range anywhere from $60 to $900 per hour-long video file. Be sure to ask about volume discounts if you have a vast video archive or create video content regularly.

Some vendors charge fees for additional capabilities such as multiple speakers, caption formats, resubmissions, and even video platform integrations. Fees can also be charged based on the turnaround you select; faster turnarounds tend to cost a bit more.

You should always consider the quality of captions. Vendors may promise a 99 percent accuracy rate but, upon closer inspection, fall drastically short of this standard. For example, if a vendor splits your files into segments, then divides these segments across multiple transcribers, there may be many inconsistencies and accuracy issues. Before making commitments, ask vendors to demo their captioning services on one or two of your videos to ensure you are happy with the quality they provide.


 The Ultimate Guide to Accessible eCommerce Videos ➡️ 

The Cost of Not Captioning

Captioning does indeed cost money. There’s no getting around it. However, it turns out that not captioning your videos could cost you, too.

shopping cart.

Lost Revenue Opportunities

Captions make eCommerce videos more accessible to people with sensory disabilities such as hearing loss, with chronic conditions such as ADHD or ADD, and with learning disabilities such as Dyslexia. This ensures that customers or potential customers are not excluded from enjoying your content.

Without captioning, just how many people are you excluding from enjoying the videos that highlight your products and brand?

Accessibility is a hallmark of forward-thinking and inclusive companies. By captioning your content, you’ll provide a convenient and considerate user experience, which may have a lasting impact on your brand and revenue stream.

Legal Damages

Getting hit with a disability discrimination lawsuit is another cost of inaccessibility. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of employees and job applicants from being excluded based on their disability.

ECommerce accessibility lawsuits are popping up frequently due to access barriers on retail sites. Brands like Glossier, Nordstrom, and Warby Parker are three among many retailers that have been hit by a web accessibility lawsuit in the past couple of years.

In the case of the National Federation of the Blind v. Target, Target was sued for not providing an accessible website. The result of the suit was that Target was responsible for paying out a $6,000,000 settlement fund for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, Target had to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and litigation fees in the total of $3,738,864.96. Target also agreed to update their website and policies to be more accessible.

If Target had led with accessibility, it would have saved them millions of dollars as well as the hassle of enduring a lawsuit.

Sharing video content is one of the best ways eCommerce brands can deliver a better online shopping experience for consumers and leave a greater brand impact; just don’t forget the closed captions.

The Ultimate Guide to Accessibility in the eCommerce Era ebook.

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